EU should not see China as rival, Foreign Minister says
The designation of China as Hungary’s strategic partner “is not simply a matter of communication”, Szijjarto said at the opening of a China-central Europe trade exhibition. “The Hungarian government takes this seriously, too,” the foreign ministry quoted him as saying.
Szijjarto noted that China’s GDP is now higher than that of the EU. While in 2010 China accounted for 9 percent of global GDP and the EU 22 percent, China’s share has increased to 18 percent and the EU’s has fallen to 17, he said.
“This also shows that if the EU sees China a rival, it will lose out … In recent years it has become obvious that China has a competitive advantage in a number of areas of the economy,” the minister said. “If the EU wants to profit from Chinese ties, mutual trust, respect and cooperation based on mutual benefits must be highlighted rather than rivalry,” he added.
“Hungary does not see China as a risk or threat but as a state that brings much profit though cooperation,” he said.
Hungary has now become the “number-one destination in central and eastern Europe for Chinese corporate investments”, Szijjarto said, adding that Hungary had the most Confucius Institutes in the region and offered flights to the most destinations.
Also, Hungary has the highest number of food export permits for China among countries of the region, he said, noting that after the coronavirus pandemic, Hungary was the first country where Chinese tourists reappeared.
Chinese demand for healthy food products is on the increase and Hungary has a competitive edge in the EU in that area, the minister said, adding that the 23 Hungarian companies at the expo mostly represented the food industry.
Szijjarto also pointed to the Hungarian government’s position against global tendencies of the world becoming divided into blocs again. “We support connectivity and welcome an East-West division of labour in key sectors of the economy … There is no point in divisions aimed at reducing risk,” he said, noting Hungary’s emerging role as a meeting point for Eastern battery technologies and Western car manufacturing.
China has now become Hungary’s largest trading partner outside Europe, Szijjarto said, noting that the turnover of trade with Zheijang province alone reached 1.6 billion dollars last year.